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The Best Movies on HBO Max Right Now

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Another streaming service is launching, which means another vast library of titles to sift through to find what you want to watch. HBO Max is the new streaming service from WarnerMedia, hosting not just titles from the pay cable channel HBO, but a bevy of films from the Warner Bros. library and other studios. In truth, the HBO Max movies that are available at launch are actually pretty terrific. There’s a great selection of classics, fairly new releases, quirky indies, and yes, superhero movies. The studio behind The Dark Knight and Man of Steel has a solid number of DC films available to stream on launch day.

But if you’re daunted by the over 600 movies available to stream, we’ve got your back. Below, we’ve put together a curated list of the absolute best movies on HBO Max. Films that will be well worth your time, with our writers making the case for why each film is special. Some you may have heard of but haven’t gotten around to seeing yet, and some you may have already seen countless times. Whatever the case, we guarantee you’ll find something you enjoy.

So check out our list of the best movies on HBO Max streaming below.

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Blade Runner 2049

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Writers: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Dave Bautista, and Jared Leto

Yes it’s true, Blade Runner 2049 is better than the original Blade Runner. The sequel takes place decades after the events of Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking first film and follows a replicant named K (Ryan Gosling) who works as a “blade runner” for the LAPD and discovers a box containing the remains of a female replicant who died during childbirth, putting into question everything he knows about replicants who were previously thought incapable of reproducing. His investigation leads him to Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, and the two find themselves crossing paths with colorful characters and a revolutionary uprising as they seek to uncover the truth. Arrival and Sicario filmmaker Denis Villeneuve brings an epic intimacy to the sci-fi sequel, while master cinematographer Roger Deakins (who won an Oscar for the film) turns in some of his finest work yet – and that’s saying something. – Adam Chitwood

Inception

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director/Writer: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

After making one of the most critically acclaimed superhero movies in history, filmmaker Christopher Nolan set out to test whether Hollywood could still bet big on original ideas with his 2010 sci-fi actioner Inception. To the tune of $828.3 million at the box office and multiple Oscar nominations, audiences and critics alike responded enthusiastically, and thus a new classic was born. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a professional thief haunted by his past who takes on one last job. The catch? His heists take place inside people’s minds, as he’s tasked with either stealing or planting information in someone’s head. Inception is a visually stunning affair that also boasts one of the most exciting endings in recent memory. – Adam Chitwood

Adventureland

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Image via Miramax

Director/Writer: Greg Mottola

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig

Coming of age stories are a dime a dozen, but Superbad filmmaker’s Adventureland is a shot straight from the heart. The film tells the story of a precocious young man who has to work at the local amusement park for the summer to pay for damage done to his parents’ car. While wasting away at a job he sees as beneath him, he learns life lessons and falls in love. That sounds trite, but Mottola infuses the film with an earnestness that is irresistible, and Jesse Eisenberg pulls off a terrific performance that is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. The entire ensemble is swell, especially Kristen Stewart and Ryan Reynolds, and Mottola toes the fine line between comedy and drama expertly. – Adam Chitwood

Ocean’s Eleven

Julia Roberts and George Clooney in Ocean's Eleven
Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Ted Griffin

Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, and Shaobo Qin

There’s an effortlessly cool vibe to Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven that makes it one of the most rewatchable movies ever made, and while it’s certainly a heist film, it’s also hilarious. Soderbergh’s cast plays the whole thing with a dryness that suits the suave con men looking to rob a Las Vegas casino, and clearly George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, etc. are having a blast. So yes, while Ocean’s Eleven is a thrilling heist movie all its own, it’s also sneakily one of the best comedies of the 21st century. – Adam Chitwood

Ocean’s Twelve

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: George Nolfi

Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mac, Scott Caan, Vincent Cassel, Eddie Jemison, Carl Reiner, and Elliott Gould

Yes, really. When it was released, Ocean’s Twelve was not nearly as warmly received as its predecessor, but that’s because Soderbergh opted to try something entirely different. The plot is purposefully convoluted, and if you read Ocean’s Twelve’s story as a metaphor for how hard it is to make a good sequel, it is immensely more satisfying. The story mirrors Soderbergh’s task of following up a huge hit film with a movie that’s the same but different: Benedict (the studio) demands Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh and his cast) form once again to pay him back his money. Hilarity ensues, and the film never takes itself too seriously as the cast is all in on the joke. It’s divisive to be sure, but give the film another shot. It may surprise you. – Adam Chitwood

RELATED: Why ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ Is an Underrated Gem

Ocean’s Thirteen

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writers: Brian Koppelman and David Levien

Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mac, Scott Caan, Vincent Cassel, Eddie Jemison, Carl Reiner, and Elliott Gould

For everyone upset that Ocean’s Twelve wasn’t just Ocean’s Eleven again, that’s kind of what you get with Ocean’s Thirteen. The least-good Ocean’s movie isn’t a bad one — it’s still fun and flirty and has that cast you love. It just lacks the originality of the first two films. Al Pacino chews the scenery as a hotel magnate who stiffs Reuben in the worst way, spurring the gang to reunite to take him down on the eve oft he opening of his new casino. The production design is spectacular, and at the end of the day it’s still an Ocean’s movie. – Adam Chitwood

Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect Anna Kendrick
Image via Universal Pictures

Director: Jason Moore

Writer: Kay Cannon

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, John Michael Higgins, and Elizabeth Banks

One of the most pleasant surprises of the last decade, Pitch Perfect burst onto the scene in 2012 and became a pretty instant hit. While the sequels don’t come close to touching the comedic and musical heights of the first film, this initial movie still holds up as a terrifically entertaining and funny story of friendship. Anna Kendrick plays a young college student who decides to join an a capella group, only to become wrapped up in the fierceness of competitive a capella while challenging the traditions of the group she’s joined. The music is great, the performances are endearing, and the comedy is on point. – Adam Chitwood

Unforgiven

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: David Webb Peoples

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, and Frances Fisher

By the time Clint Eastwood made Unforgiven in 1992, he had a wealth of experience with the Western genre. So this time around, Eastwood opted to take a different track, crafting a revisionist Western that recontextualizes the genre and also serves as a comment of sorts on the kinds of roles that made Eastwood’s career in the first place. Set in the 1880s, the story revolves around a reformed bandit and repentant widower (Eastwood) who teams up with another retired gunslinger (Morgan Freeman) to track down two violent cowboys and reap a reward. What ensues is a meditation on the consequences of violence, mortality, and morality. Put simply, Unforgiven is one of the best and most essential Westerns ever made. – Adam Chitwood

The Graduate

Image via MGM

Director: Mike Nichols

Writer: Calder Willingham and Buck Henry

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, William Daniels, Murray Hamilton, and Elizabeth Wilson

No movie hits to the heart of existential malaise quite like The Graduate. Although the film largely follows the plot beats of Charles Webb’s novel, director Mike Nichols found the unique mixture of laughter and despair in the tale of Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate who, unable to decide what he wants to do with his life, takes up sleeping with his significantly older neighbor, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). Nichols achieves a brilliant combination of humor and pathos as Ben tries to stake out a path for his life only to find dead ends and new problems. Although some may point to the movie as a quintessential coming of age movie, I’ve found The Graduate to be incredibly relevant in my teens, 20s, and 30s because it’s a movie that keeps coming back to how we never have it all completely figured out, and any attempt to have everything completely sorted is a fool’s errand. The Graduate intimately understands the comedy and the tragedy of that errand. – Matt Goldberg

Mad Max: Fury Road

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: George Miller

Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris

Cast: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravtiz, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Riley Keough

Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the greatest action movies ever made. The acclaim this prequel of sorts achieved when it was released in 2015 was well-deserved, and it holds up tremendously well as filmmaker George Miller truly pulled off a story that is wall-to-wall action – the film is one long car chase, with kinetic cinematography and stunts that will blow your mind. But what elevates Fury Road is it’s also a deeply feminist story of independence and empathy, as it follows a woman named Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who absconds with an evil post-apocalyptic dictator’s harem of wives in an act of revenge that eventually morphs into rescue. What an astounding piece of cinema. – Adam Chitwood

Wonder Woman

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Patty Jenkins

Writer: Allan Heinberg

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, and Elena Anaya

The best DCEU superhero movie by far, Patty Jenkins crafted a terrific origin story for Diana’s first lead outing on the big screen. The story puts the Amazonian (Gal Gadot) into World War I where she goes hunting for Ares, the God of War, to try and bring peace to mankind. However, her journey has her confronting the world in all its beauty and terror while also falling for pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Wonder Woman embraces the heroism of its female superhero while also challenging her beliefs and forcing her to grow and change. It’s a difficult balancing act, especially as it carries the weight of being a feminist icon, but Jenkins pulls it off with style to spare. – Matt Goldberg

Se7en

Image via New Line Cinema

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker

Cast: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, and Kevin Spacey

David Fincher had a rough start with his first feature Alien 3, but he bounced back tremendously with his 1995 film Se7en, solidifying himself as an astoundingly talented director to watch. Set in an unnamed city that appears to be rotting from the inside out, the film follows two detectives – one on the verge of retirement (Morgan Freeman) and one newly promoted (Brad Pitt) – as they hunt a serial killer who appears to be killing based on the seven deadly sins. The performances are wonderful all around, and the story builds to one of the most upsetting twists in movie history. – Adam Chitwood

Bowfinger

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Director: Frank Oz

Writer: Steve Martin

Cast: Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham, Christine Baranski, and Terence Stamp

One of the best movies about Hollywood that far too few people have seen, Bowfinger is a hilarious and surprisingly touching ode to those who spend their lives shooting their shot, only to always be on the outside looking in. Steve Martin plays a B-movie film producer who decides a script written by his accountant is the one that’s gonna finally break him into the big leagues. He assembles a crew by telling them one of the hottest actors in town, Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy), has agreed to be in the movie – except he hasn’t. So Martin tells his crew Ramsey is going full method, and has his actors approach Ramsey on the street to play out their scenes, filming from afar. His movie then gets a lucky break when a young man who looks like Ramsey (also Murphy) agrees to be in the film and serve as Ramsey’s stand-in. It’s hilarious and weird and silly, and Martin and Murphy are both fantastic. – Adam Chitwood

Defending Your Life

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director/Writer: Albert Brooks

Cast: Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, and Rip Torn

If you’re in the mood for a delightful comedy about the afterlife that’s also romantic and uplifting, Albert Brooks’ sorely underrated 1991 film Defending Your Life is the perfect pick. The film begins when a Los Angeles advertising executive dies in a car accident and is sent to Judgment City, which is a purgatory-like waystation where peoples’ lives on Earth on judged – which then determines where they go next. While in Judgment City, he strikes up a relationship with a woman who seemingly led an angelic life on Earth, and must find a way to keep them together. It’s sweet and funny and a little sad, while also offering a unique twist on an “afterlife” story. – Adam Chitwood

The Voices

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Director: Marjane Satrapi

Writer: Michael R. Perry

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver, and Ella Smith

If you’re in the mood for a dark comedy with a unique visual style, The Voices is a great choice. The film hails from Persepolis filmmaker Marjane Satrapi and stars Ryan Reynolds as an upbeat man named Jerry who works at a bathtub factory. He lives a super happy life with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers, both of whom he imagines speaking to him at regular intervals (Reynolds voices both animals). But when he develops a crush on a woman who rebuffs him, he finds himself brutally murdering her and hiding the body, only for the audience to then discover that Jerry may not be the standup guy we’re led to believe. This movie is pretty brilliant in that it’s told entirely from the point of view of Jerry, who views everything in bright, vibrant colors and upbeat tones. But, being mentally insane, when the façade brakes, the film then visually shows us what’s really going on, and it’s profoundly disturbing. This is a supremely weird, violent, but also positively delightfully little gem of a movie featuring a terrific Ryan Reynolds performance. – Adam Chitwood

All the President’s Men

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Alan J. Pakula

Writer: William Goldman

Cast: Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Warden, Hal Holbrook, and Jason Robards

They don’t really make many movies like All the President’s Men anymore. Filmmaker Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 masterpiece came out just two years after President Richard Nixon resigned from the White House in disgrace, and it chronicles how the dogged investigative skills of journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein helped expose the Watergate scandal for what it truly was, and how high up it went. The film is tremendously thrilling and wildly tense, all without any explosions, stunts, or visual effects spectacle. It’s a series of scenes of people talking in rooms (and parking garages), but it’s more interesting than most blockbusters released nowadays. So if you’re in the mood for a classic throwback that epitomizes 70s cinema, give All the President’s Men a spin. – Adam Chitwood

A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born Bradley Cooper Lady Gaga
Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Bradley Cooper

Writers: Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, and Sam Elliott

Straight-up, A Star Is Born is maybe one of the best films of the last 10 years. An assured directorial debut from Bradley Cooper, this remake follows a famous country rock singer spiraling into alcoholism and despair who crosses paths with a wildly talented up-and-comer named Ally (Lady Gaga). He shepherds her career from the ground up, but as she takes off he declines deeper and deeper, as the tragedy of this story begins to truly unfold. The music is absolutely stellar, with cinematographer Matthew Libatique capturing each performance in wonderfully intimate fashion. But it’s the performances by Cooper and Gaga at the heart of the film that really make A Star Is Born special. You’ll be thinking about what Cooper accomplishes here in particular long after the credits have rolled. – Adam Chitwood

Batman Returns

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Image via Warner Bros.

Directed by: Tim Burton

Written by: Daniel Waters

Cast: Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito, and Christopher Walken

Batman Returns is an insane movie, but it’s also terrific. After scoring success with 1989’s Batman, director Tim Burton felt more free to let his freak flag fly, so to speak, so Batman Returns leans fully into the Gothic madness that served as the foundation for Burton’s take on the Dark Knight. The film features some of the best superhero movie villains of all time, with Michelle Pfeiffer’s dynamic, complex Catwoman, Danny DeVito’s grotesque Penguin, and Christopher Walken’s most menacing of all, Max Schreck. Burton wisely uses Catwoman as a mirror to the duality of the Batman/Bruce Wayne persona, mining a lot of drama from her dynamic with Michael Keaton and resulting in a character-rich viewing experience. Plus there are penguins with rockets. – Adam Chitwood

Batman Begins

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writers: Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer

Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, and Ken Watanabe

Before he crafted the masterful sequel The Dark Knight, filmmaker Christopher Nolan had to first reinvent the Batman franchise from the ground up with the “gritty reboot” Batman Begins. This movie came on the heels of the exceedingly goofy Batman & Robin and thus had to prove to audiences a grounded, realistic Batman story was one worth watching. Casting Christian Bale in the lead role helped, but Nolan’s sprawling, Gotham-centric story feels more in line with a compelling character drama than a superhero movie—and that was by design. Batman Begins spawned not only two direct sequels but a trend in Hollywood of revitalizing franchises with the “gritty reboot” treatment, and this wholly influential redo still holds up over a decade later as a terrific Batman origin story. – Adam Chitwood

The Dark Knight

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Jonathan Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine

One of the best superhero movies ever made, full-stop, The Dark Knight is a masterpiece. Christopher Nolan successfully introduced the world to the idea of a “gritty reboot” with Batman Begins, but for the follow-up he crafted an epic, surprising, and downright thrilling story of escalation. Heath Ledger’s take on The Joker is iconic, offering up an enigmatic villain who consistently throws Christian Bale’s Batman for a loop. Then you have Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent, as The Dark Knight crafts a meaty, fulfilling, and heartbreaking arc for this Bruce Wayne foil. On top of all of that, Nolan is essentially making a film about the post-9/11 world—one in which fighting “the bad guys” only leads to bigger and more severe devastation. How do you confront an enemy that just wants to watch the world burn? There’s a reason The Dark Knight has lingered in the public consciousness for a decade, and it still holds up as the best of the best in the face of the bevy of superhero movies that soon followed. – Adam Chitwood

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Listen to Two Very Different Themes for ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ by Composer Tom Holkenborg

The MonsterVerse stars are even battling it out with individual themes.


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